While discussing the issues at Bob Jones University, I made mention of the story Jesus told about the one lost sheep out of ninety-nine. The shepherd who loves his sheep leaves the others to rescue the lost one who has fallen into harm's way (Luke 15:4-5 Message).
"Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, 'Celebrate with me! I've found my lost sheep!' Count on it—there's more joy in heaven over one sinner's rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.
The National Association for Christian Recovery offers a free daily meditation via email (and these devotions are also available in their book, Rooted in God's Love).
Their featured meditation for January 2, 2012 discusses this same passage about the wayward sheep and offers this encouragement:
When God finds us, most of us expect God to say: 'Where have you been? I have been looking all over for you! Can't you follow directions? What's wrong with you? I don't want to have to come back out here again to find you. Try to pay attention from now on!'
But there is no hint of scolding, shaming, yelling or blaming in this text. When God finds us, God is full of joy. God picks us up and carries us home. God celebrates.
God pays attention. God notices when we are lost. God searches for us. And God celebrates when we are found. Recovery is the gift of being found by God.
I hope that you will visit their site to read the entire entry where you can also sign up to receive the daily emails.
I offer it as encouragement to all of us who have gone astray, turning to our own way. The Lord rejoices when He finds us, and he doesn't punish us, even if we failed to follow him. We all do at times. How gracious of God to rescue and receive us, rejoicing over us.